Cumulus Linux and NetQ


I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Cumulus Networks at Networking Field Day 17.  Pete Lumbis gave an engaging whiteboarding session followed up with a demonstration of Cumulus Linux and NetQ.  Now, this is my first time seeing a whitebox vendor in action, so to say it piqued my interest is a bit of an understatement.

What I found so interesting about Cumulus Linux is that it is just Linux.  Sure it is coded to run on specific hardware to make lights light-up and buttons work, but at its core it is a Linux distribution moving your packets through the network.  This enables you to utilize any of your favorite tools automation tools you are already comfortable with such as Ansible, Chef, or Puppet.  Freeing you from having to learn yet another tool that only works with a specific vendor, with a limited scope, and costs even more in resources and capital.

Now, say you have a network that is running production traffic and need to see what the status of BGP is.  I traditionally go router by router to find how things look in different parts of the network – an incredible pain and a nightmare to keep track of.  Cumulus decided to make things easier for the admin by introducing NetQ.  NetQ is a telemetry based fabric validation platform that runs on a management server, all of your switches, and your Linux servers.  NetQ is telemetry based and all your information is pushed to the management server, where you are able to query anything about your network you want.

Want to know if Docker is running on a node?

cumulus@server01:~$ netq show docker service
Matching service records are:
Service Name    Manager    Cluster    Mode          Replicas  Running
--------------  ---------  ---------  ----------  ----------  ---------
apache_web      server01   default    Replicated           2  2

Want to know if BGP is running?

cumulus@oob-mgmt-server:~/cldemo-netq/evpn$ netq leaf01 show bgp
Matching bgp records are:
Hostname  Neighbor                VRF      ASN        Peer ASN   PfxRx        Last Changed
--------- -------------------------------- ---------- ---------- ------------ ----------------
leaf01    swp51(spine01)          default  65101      65000      6/5/-        22m:33.568s
leaf01    swp52(spine02)          default  65101      65000      6/5/-        22m:22.568s
leaf01    swp2(server02)          default  65101      65202      2/1/-        21m:53.568s
leaf01    swp1(server01)          default  65101      65201      2/2/-        22m:4.568s
leaf01    swp44(oob-mgmt-server)  default  65101      65301      2/2/-        22m:43.568s

Want to go back in time and see what changed and why something magically broke? Neat bonus feature – you are only limited to what NetQ retains by the hardware you throw at your management server.

cumulus@server01:~$ netq show docker container service apache_web changes between 1s and 10m
Matching container records are:
Container Name       Hostname Container IP  IP Masq  Network Name   Service Name   DBState  Last changed
-------------------- --------- ------------ -------- -------------- -------------- -------- ---------------
apache_web.4.lqxi3jo server03    False    ingress        apache_web     Add      4m:1.125s
apache_web.3.s470yqg server01   False    ingress        apache_web     Add      4m:25.792s
apache_web.3.y241cpk server01    False    ingress        apache_web     Del      8m:50.497s

In conclusion, I hope this has left you curious.  I implore you to follow along with Pete in the video below and at the Cumulus GitHub and by downloading Cumulus VX or using a free cloud demo.  Both, VX and Cloud, options are great for getting your hands dirty and familiarizing yourself with Cumulus Linux and NetQ.  If you are already running Cumulus in your environment or are planning a new deployment, then I recommend you download VX.  With VX you can build your entire network, test, and when you’re ready put those configurations directly into production.

Disclaimer: Gelstalt IT, the organizers of Networking Field Day, provides travel and expenses for me to attend Networking Field Day. I do not receive cash compensation as a delegate. Also, I do not receive compensation for writing about or promoting Networking Field Day.

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